Ruja Ignatova, the Crypto Queen Was Fugitive and Wanted by the FBI

His name probably means nothing to you. However, she is in the top 10 most wanted people by the FBI and Europol. His crime? She is said to have organized the biggest scam in the history of cryptocurrencies.

She disappeared from the surface of the planet in 2017. She is Ruja Ignatova, aka the “Crypto Queen”. This 42-year-old Bulgarian-German entrepreneur has been on the run for five years and is even one of the 10 most wanted persons of the American FBI and Europol, the European police. The Americans have promised $100,000 for any information that will facilitate his arrest. The reason for its pricing? Ruja Ignatova has created a Ponzi scheme around the OneCoin cryptocurrency.

With her fraudulent financial scheme, she is behind one of the biggest scams in history. A kind of female counterpart to Bernard Madoff, the famous American financier-conman who made his victims lose more than 60 billion dollars. The “Queen of cryptos” has cost the people who trusted her, that is, hundreds of thousands of people from more than 70 countries, at least 4 billion dollars.

A very normal life… until the discovery of cryptocurrencies

She was last seen in 2017 landing on a plane in Athens, Greece. She has since disappeared. But his story is worth the detour. So much so that it was the subject of a BBC podcast. A docu-series and even a movie are in preparation. baptized Fake!, the latter with Kate Winslet. The actress plays one of the victims of the Ponzi scheme, Jen McAdam, who lost nearly $300,000.

However, nothing has destined Ruja Ignatova to be one of the biggest scammers on the planet. Born on May 30, 1980 in Bulgaria, she and her family moved to Germany when she was 10 years old. She studied brilliantly and obtained a law degree from Oxford University and a PhD in private international law from the University of Konstanz, Germany. A quiet life awaits her. She married a German lawyer, Bjorn Strehl, and the couple had a daughter in 2016. But since a few years, she started taking a strong interest in cryptocurrencies.

A real guru to make OneCoin popular

She smelled the good vein to make a lot of money and trained in cryptos. In the process, she encountered a number of inappropriate people, including an inattentive businessman, Sebastian Greenwood. In 2014, she took the plunge and co-founded the cryptocurrency OneCoin with him. This project will be created on the still hot axis of another crypto, the BigCoin, whose principle is already similar to the Ponzi system. That is, the older investors are rewarded thanks to the newcomers. And only the top of the pyramid wins.

According to her, OneCoin will clearly be the future major virtual currency competing with Bitcoin. Ruja Ignatova promises it: it will take less than two years to dethrone the reference currency. And early adopters will be rich once the currency gains popularity. His bagou will have a lot to do with the temporary success of OneCoin.

She manages to fill huge venues, including London’s Wembley Arena, where she dangles instant – and easy – riches from crypto newbies. To win the jackpot, all you have to do is invest… For example, in 2016 OneCoin officially had 3 million investors. The problem? This cryptocurrency made no sense… and it was impossible to exchange OneCoin against conventional currencies, such as dollars or euros.

A pyramid scheme… and almost sectarian

The Ruja Ignatova project has many similarities with a religious sect. Not only did she sound like a real guru with her sermons to recruit thousands of small, naive investors into large, imposing rooms, but she spoke of the “family” to summon the investors of OneCoin. “People believe they are part of a big project and invested in something that will change the world, and it’s almost impossible to get them to admit they were wrong”told the BBC’s Eileen Barker, a specialist in sectarian movements at the London School of Economics.

But little by little, the OneCoin phenomenon has aroused suspicion. No economic model, extra compensation promised to investors who would recruit other members, the inability to get their money back in dollars and euros, a price that continues to rise but in reality was completely manipulated by the founders… More and more people have started to keep a close eye on OneCoin. Including the US and Chinese authorities.

Ruja Ignatova’s file on the FBI website.

Only solution: disappear

According to Wall Street Journal, she would have decided to disappear when she discovered that her fiancé was in cahoots with the FBI at the time. While the annual OneCoin high mass was scheduled for November 2017 in Lisbon (Portugal), with important announcements, Ruja Ignatova disappears. Two weeks before the fateful date, October 25, she took a flight from Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, to Athens. Since then, no one knows where she has gone.

His FBI premium sheet reads: “It is believed that Ignatova is traveling with armed guards and/or associates. Ignatova may have had plastic surgery or changed her appearance. » And to add: “Maybe she traveled with a German passport to the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Greece and/or Eastern Europe. »

Since then, she would be seen all over Eastern Europe, but also in cities like Dubai. Or she would live on a superyacht in the Mediterranean. Some also say she was murdered. Others that she leads a great lifestyle under a false identity. It must be said that before she disappeared, she lived in luxury. Privatization of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for her birthday with singer Tom Jones as a guest, several luxury residences in Sofia and in the seaside resort of Sozopol in Bulgaria, on the shores of the Black Sea… Nothing was too good. She lived in the British capital and lived in a penthouse in Kensington, equipped with a swimming pool and several artworks by Andy Warhol. Real estate, paintings, a 145-foot (about 45 meters) boat… So many tangible possessions. Easy to resell. Exactly the opposite of OneCoin.

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